As we gear up for our annual conference, local Cleveland students will be gearing up with backpacks, sneakers, and clothes for their first day of school, August 17th. Many of us will be driving or flying into Cleveland at the same time kids are heading off to school, making for a hectic morning commute. Archivists will anticipate luggage arrival and remember all travel essentials. We’ll sort out travel-rumpled clothes while hoping conference rooms aren’t over-air-conditioned or that the Miami heat hasn’t followed LeBron to Cleveland. We’ll be finding our way around, reuniting with friends we’ve missed over the months, and figuring out our schedules.
It’ll be a similar situation for Cleveland-area kids. Back-to-school also means new schedules, finding friends, and pressures to appear presentable amongst peers. Many students can’t afford the items necessary to begin the school year, while others are unable to attend school at all due to financial restrictions. Poverty is an especially big deal for children in Cleveland, where 54.4 percent live in poverty – defined for a family of three as below $18,769 a year (Census Bureau, Sept, 2014). The cost for equipping a grade-schooler jumped 20 percent between 2013 and 2014. In 2014, parents estimated paying $642 per child for school supplies (Huntington Backpack Index, 2014). This does not include the price of clothing. Studies have shown that the inability to buy clothing can affect self-esteem and significantly affect social participation.
Luckily, there is an opportunity for us to help local kids while engaging in some social participation of our own. A group of volunteers is needed at the Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K) warehouse in Cleveland to help count, sort, and pack items into boxes for distribution to area children. This Packing Day is a fun opportunity that involves some physical labor (making boxes, opening boxes, moving boxes). SC4K positively impacts the lives of over 25,000 children each year by giving them the self-esteem and confidence that comes from having brand new shoes and clothes.
A second chance to participate will be available during the conference. SC4K donation boxes will be set up within the Cleveland Convention Center for you to drop off new articles of clothing (in original packaging or with tags attached) and school supplies. Keep in mind the first things a child puts on in the morning are socks and underwear – essentials no one wants to be without.
If you are interested in giving back to the host-city, helping kids, doing some pro-bono organizational work, and meeting up and having lunch with peers, please contact me. To register for the Packing Day, please e-mail: Nicole.Laflamme@jmsmucker.com or call 330-684-7629. While at the conference, keep an eye out for the SC4K donation boxes.
To help out kids of the four-legged variety, SAA will be collecting wish list items for the Cleveland Animal Protective League (https://clevelandapl.org/). The shelter’s needs range from items for the animals to office supplies…and many are “suitcase friendly.” For SAA’s novice and champion knitters, cat and dog blankets would be welcome as well! We’ll be sharing more about ways to help Cleveland’s pets-in-waiting as the meeting gets closer. To see the Cleveland APL’s wish list, visit https://clevelandapl.org/donate/our-wish-list/